The true face of the Cuban regime has once again been exposed. Repression is the only form of dialogue that the Government of Miguel Diaz-Canel, as demonstrated by what happened this Wednesday in Havana, when the Minister of Culture himself, Alpidio Alonso, accompanied by his two vice ministers, Fernando Rojas and Fernando León Jacomino, faced “with violence” a group of independent artists and journalists gathered in front of the ministry’s headquarters. Yesterday, Thursday, thousands of voices called for the resignation of the Culture leadership, and also that of President Díaz-Canel.
The majority of those gathered before the ministry were members of the 27-N movement, who had gathered before him to demand the release of several of their fellow detainees when they were going to an act of tribute to the poet and politician José Martí, of whom this Thursday was the 168th anniversary of his birth. The gesture was not liked, and Rojas asked that they disperse. Simultaneously, at the same time, several artists, among them, Tania Bruguera and Katherine Bisquet, and journalists, like Camila Acosta, were arrested when they went to the tribute.
Armed with mobiles
For the Cuban regime, the great threat of peaceful concentration before the Ministry of Culture were the mobile phones carried by the participants, with which they transmitted what was happening in real time (shortly after the internet was blocked at the national level). The most important thing for the Culture officials was that this new concentration did not spread, as happened two months ago when hundreds of people gathered before the ministry after the raid on the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement. That act marked a milestone and had an immense impact. And it should not be repeated. Hence, Alpidio Alonso, after the repeated refusal of the concentrates to withdraw while his comrades were not released, decided himself to go out and confront the protesters. Without hesitating or attempting to engage in a dialogue, the minister addressed the group, as can be seen in the numerous videos that have circulated and that have gone viral, and hit a man on the hand. Freelance journalist for “Diario de Cuba”, Mauricio Mendoza, to stop recording. The “mob” of people accompanying Alonso then attacked the rest of the group. The result: fade to black. Transmissions and communications ended.
Minister of Cuba @AlpidioAlonsoG together with the Vice Ministers @ fernandorojas_6 and @PQMeLoQuitas cross the sidewalk and assault artists who were peacefully located on the outskirts of the @CubaEsCultura of #Cuba.@ 27@Mov_sanisidro@CIDH@OACNUDH#Human rights#DDHH@ Almagro_OEA2015pic.twitter.com/qisERFHWOO
– Prisoners Defenders (@CubanDefenders) January 27, 2021
ABC was the victim of this news blackout by interrupting its communication with the journalist Alfredo Martínez, collaborator of the Cuban publication «Tremenda nota», and who was part of the concentration. Twenty-four hours later, we resume the conversation with Martínez, while he is in the hospital to have a “finger plaster” broken during the confrontations. The journalist recalls that on Wednesday morning a meeting of the spokesmen for 27-N was scheduled with Fernando Rojas to resume an open negotiation in November, “but we decided to go to the ministry because three people from the movement were imprisoned. We decided to hold a peaceful demonstration, because we are not violent people, “says Martínez, who stresses that the group’s objective was to achieve” a dialogue with the institution, “a dialogue that, in his opinion, is being” fictitious. ” It’s like a war. A dialogue is staged in front, but actions are carried out from behind ”.
The tension was palpable, since the surrounding streets “had been closed by state security agents so that no one could enter or leave.” Still, they started recording live with their phones. This was the trigger for what happened later, and what Martínez considers “one of the most violent moments” that he has lived, “and that I have participated in several demonstrations and they have violated me several times,” he says. “When these people left the ministry – he continues -, from the houses across the street they did an act of repudiation (carried out by supporters of the regime). You can’t imagine the mob that came out of the ministry. It is then that Alpidio Alonso “attacks Mauricio Mendoza to snatch his phone.” And “everything turned dark.” The police officers, together with the people from the ministry, “rushed us in a violent way. They broke my finger. They then put the protesters, more than twenty people, “like animals” on a bus. «The most violated was a visual artist, Camila Lobon», He says. They were taken to the Infanta and Manglar National Revolutionary Police (PNR) station, where they would be interviewed, one by one. There they were held “without charge” for five hours before being released.
#AlpidioDimisión ALREADY! It is not possible to accept #Minister of Culture #Cuba repressor. Everything is clear. The masks have been removed, they never wanted dialogue with independent artists, now what is coming is resignation @ fernandorojas_6 resignation Now! # 27Npic.twitter.com/8WuYyCUDUJ
– Tania Bruguera (@Immigrantmove) January 28, 2021
The Ministry of Culture has justified what happened by stating, in a statement, that the act of concentration was a “provocation”, but still insists that it wants to continue negotiating with the sector. For his part, Martínez, as thousands of people did yesterday –artists, independent journalists, intellectuals– through social networks or by signing an open petition in the Change.org platform, demands that the Culture leadership resign: “We cannot understand how a Minister of Culture is hitting people who are demonstrating peacefully and want to establish a transparent dialogue with the institution.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism